The use of drugs often begins as an experiment. But the long-term use of certain substances leads to addiction that is often difficult to overcome. The risk of relapse, even after recovery, is high due to environmental factors that expose you to the stressors that led to the addiction in the first place.
Are you or your loved one struggling with drug addiction? It is often not easy to admit that you have a drug addiction or even realize that their abuse of certain drugs has become a problem. Many people often struggle with addiction in silence. Luckily, it’s possible to beat any addiction.
Read on as we discuss drug addiction, its various types, and how to get help.
What Is Drug Addiction?
Addiction is a disease that adversely affects the brain, making it difficult for a person to control the use of a particular substance. Drug addiction occurs after the long-term use or abuse of drugs alters the brain chemistry and makes it dependent on the drug.
Drug addiction is a lifelong condition, and you must continuously work on recovery. The most common type of addiction is alcoholism.
The urge to use drugs doesn’t dissipate after successful rehabilitation. It’s also possible that the urge to use drugs becomes stronger after seeking treatment.
The recovery process is made more difficult due to the onset of withdrawal symptoms. There are numerous types of addiction, such as alcohol addiction, nicotine addiction, and illicit drug addiction.
Alcohol addiction is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Alcoholism often progresses slowly, where the person begins by drinking only on certain occasions, and it becomes increasingly frequent until the individual can’t say no to alcohol.
Alcohol addiction will often present as an alcohol dependency. The main forms of alcohol addiction are functional alcoholics and closet alcoholics. Functional alcoholics are individuals dependent on alcohol or unable to control their urge to drink. However, they still maintain stable relationships with their families.
Functional alcoholics can keep doing their jobs and participate in any day-to-day activities.
Closet alcoholics are individuals who are suffering from alcohol addiction but hide it from friends and family. They may find it more difficult to hold down a job.
Nicotine or tobacco addiction will often present itself as an addiction to cigarettes. Tobacco contains nicotine, which is the main addictive substance in cigarettes. Vaping is another source of nicotine addiction.
Illicit Drug Addiction
Illicit drugs are some of the most addictive substances available to man. Some of the most commonly abused illicit drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and ecstasy.
The abuse of illegal drugs became a major feature in the 20th century, and America launched a campaign called the “War on Drugs.” But illicit drugs are more addictive than conventional drugs such as alcohol.
Illicit drugs are often classified according to their effects on the brain. Some include stimulants, hallucinogens, and depressants. The health risks associated with illicit drug use and addiction are numerous due to their mode of intake. For instance, people suffering from an addiction to illicit drugs often share needles, increasing the risk of spreading diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Drug Addiction Statistics
Approximately 138 million Americans aged above 12 years old have had alcohol. Alcohol abuse and addiction rates among women have been rising steadily, and a recent survey found that 13% of women who drink have more than seven drinks every week.
The percentage of alcohol abuse and addiction among teenagers has also risen in the past ten years. A study revealed that 62% of teenagers had abused alcohol, and the rate of drug use among teenagers increased by 61% from 2016-2020.
What Are the Signs of Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction can go unnoticed for many years if you don’t know what signs to look out for. Here are some of the signs of drug addiction:
- Increased tolerance
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Loss of control over drug intake
- Inability to stop using the drug
- Physical signs
- Craving the drug
1. Greater Tolerance
The continued abuse of a drug leads to a change in how the body responds to the drug. For instance, you may be an addict if you increase your consumption of the drug to experience the same high you previously did in lesser quantities. Greater tolerance leads to more drug intake, leading to dependence or addiction.
2. Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms
People suffering from drug addiction will often experience withdrawal symptoms after going without drugs for a time. Some of the withdrawal symptoms you should look out for include depression, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and nausea.
The severity of withdrawal symptoms will increase as the individual becomes dependent on the drug.
3. Loss of Control Over Drug Intake
A sure sign of addiction is the inability to control how much you consume the drug. Addicts can’t control how much of the drug they consume, even if they want to stop. For instance, if you plan to have 1 or 2 glasses of wine and drink eight or more, you may suffer from alcohol addiction.
4. Inability To Stop
The inability to stop using a particular drug despite knowing its harmful effects is a sign of addiction. A drug addict can’t stop taking a drug even if it puts them in financial trouble or causes a breakdown in their relationships. In addition, people suffering from drug addiction find it hard to stop even if they get sick from drug abuse.
5. Physical Signs
Certain physical signs are often associated with drug addiction. For instance, sudden weight gain or loss is a symptom of prolonged drug use. Deterioration of personal grooming habits and appearance also indicates drug addiction. Other physical signs that may indicate drug addiction are slurred speech, tremors, loss of appetite and irregular sleep patterns.
6. Craving the Drug
People suffering from drug addiction will experience intense cravings for the drug. You might be an addict if you find yourself planning your life around drug use or thinking about using or acquiring the drug all the time. People suffering from drug addiction will often neglect hobbies and other activities they used to enjoy to focus on satisfying their cravings.
Types of Unhealthy Drug Behavior
Certain unhealthy behaviors make it apparent that one is suffering from drug addiction. Such behaviors include the following:
- Changes in attitude or personality that have no explanation
- Erratic mood swings such as irritability and outbursts of anger or depression
- Displaying dangerous behavior, such as fighting or engaging in illegal activities
What Is the Main Cause of Drug Addiction?
There is no single cause of drug addiction. But certain risk factors make people susceptible to becoming an addict. The main risk factors that can cause drug addiction are environmental factors. Research has also shown that addiction might be linked to genetics.
Mental health problems are also a risk factor for the onset of drug addiction. Conditions such as anxiety disorder, depression, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can increase the likelihood that a person suffers from drug addiction. People suffering from these conditions will often use drugs to cope with their symptoms.
Early exposure to drug use and a family history of drug addiction will also make you more susceptible to becoming an addict. Sociocultural factors can determine the availability and legality of certain drugs. Thus, it is more common to find drug addiction cases prevalent in societies with limited drug use restrictions.
Drug addiction is a progressive condition that often follows certain stages, such as:
- Experimental use stage
- Occasional use stage
- Heavy use stage
- Drug addiction or substance use disorder
Once addiction reaches the final stage, it becomes difficult to treat or overcome without professional help. The main reason for this is the fact that drug addiction has altered brain chemistry. Once it reaches this stage, the addiction will begin showing states of change that will manifest in more severe ways, such as the onset of withdrawal symptoms.
How Drug Addiction Affects the Brain?
Drug addiction affects the brain by changing how neurotransmitters work. Drugs capable of causing addiction affect the reward pathways in the brain. The intake of certain drugs causes a sensation of pleasure due to the increased production of dopamine.
Continued drug use alters brain chemistry, making your brain dependent on drugs to experience pleasure. Drugs cause an overproduction of dopamine which the body can’t produce on its own. Thus, drug addicts are less sensitive to their normal dopamine level and feel they need the drug to function normally or feel pleasure.
What Is the Personality of a Drug Addict?
The personality of a drug addict changes as they become dependent on the drug. The personality of a drug addict will get characterized by traits such as impulsivity and reckless risk-taking.
The individual suffering from drug addiction becomes more irritable and socially withdrawn. Moreover, drug addiction is a risk factor for certain mental health conditions. A drug addict with a pre-existing mental health condition may begin to experience exacerbated symptoms.
Is Drug Addiction a Mental Health Issue?
Yes, drug addiction is a mental health issue. Scientists have found a strong connection between drug addiction and mental health issues. For instance, 20% of people with mental health problems suffer from drug addiction.
Drug addiction changes the way the brain works irreversibly. Drug addiction is now considered the most severe form of substance use disorder. A drug addict can’t control their abuse of drugs.
What Mental Illnesses Go Hand in Hand With Drug Addiction?
The mental health conditions that are commonly associated with drug addiction are:
- Anxiety disorder
How Do I Stop My Drug Addiction?
The first step to effectively stopping drug addiction is recognizing or admitting that the problem exists. Seeking professional help is the best way to stop drug addiction. Some of the ways you can stop a drug addiction are through joining a rehabilitation center and detoxification.
Getting professional counseling is a fantastic way to beat addiction, as is seeking medication for treatment from your healthcare team.
Long-term behavioral and cognitive therapies such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can teach distress tolerance skills to aid you in overcoming your addiction.
Outpatient counseling and family support groups can also be beneficial in resolving addiction issues. By including your family in your recovery journey, you can gain a strong support network.
Can Drug Addiction Ever Be Cured?
No, there is currently no cure for drug addiction. Similar to various chronic conditions, drug addiction has no permanent cure. However, you can get treatment to help you overcome drug addiction. It is also important to note that a relapse doesn’t mean treatment has failed or you can’t successfully fight off the addiction.
The treatment and management of drug addiction is a lifelong process. You must ensure that you minimize any risk factors, such as stress, that might cause a relapse.
What Is the Most Common Treatment for Drug Addiction?
The most common treatment for drug addiction is the inpatient program. The program is available at medical clinics and rehabilitation centers. The primary purpose of the inpatient program is to provide detoxification services and administer any medical assistance to help ease the withdrawal process.
What Can I Replace Drugs With?
Some of the healthy alternatives to drug abuse include:
- Going to the gym
- Finding a new hobby
- Engaging in physical activities such as sports
- Taking up yoga and meditation to help you cope better with stress
Frequently Asked Questions
Many people struggling with drug addiction don’t know they suffer from a disease beyond their control. Understanding drug addiction is the best way to learn if you or your loved ones need help. Some of the questions that are commonly associated with drug addiction are:
Are some people immune to drug addiction?
No one is immune to drug addiction. However, genetics plays a role in how susceptible one is to drug addiction. That’s why some people can use drugs recreationally and over a long time without becoming addicted.
Can a drug addiction cause sociopathic behavior?
Drug addiction cannot cause sociopathic behavior. But it can exacerbate pre-existing antisocial personality disorders, which include sociopathy. Moreover, sociopathic behaviors are often associated with various forms of drug addiction, such as alcoholism.
Additional Addictions To Be Aware Of
People struggle with numerous types of drug addictions, and the common feature among all kinds of addictions is the inability to control drug use. Here are other addictions to be aware of:
- Marijuana addiction: This type of addiction occurs after long-term use of marijuana causes dependence as the brain becomes reliant on the endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.
- Alcohol addiction: This is the country’s most common type of drug addiction. Alcohol addiction often presents as the inability to control how much one is drinking. People suffering from alcohol addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms if they go 24 or 36 hours without drinking.
- Opioid addiction: Opioids such as Fentanyl, Heroin, and Oxycontin are very addictive and have become more common due to their use in pain management. Opioid addiction occurs after a period of dependence or abuse.
Many people often struggle with drug addiction silently. You may fear being ostracized from your community, or are otherwise unaware of your addiction. Luckily, help is now available, and you never have to deal with drug addiction alone.